• UO Print Shop: Lauren Kroll

    NY photographer Lauren Kroll takes travel-fueled photographs so transportive you'll want to step inside. Learn more about Lauren and get her tips for taking better photos in our interview with the UO Print Shop artist.

    Above: "Fields on top of a mountain right outside SF. A friend of mine's father owns 69 acres of land with redwoods on the property and it was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen."
    Above: "Asbury Park, NJ. I took a trip in fall with my family and was struck by how different it looked in November vs in August. Everything was so white and dead, but the colors of the old convention hall were so bright and vibrant in contrast to everything else."

    What’s led you to what you’re doing now?
    I come from a family of artists and photographers. My mom taught art classes when I was a kid and my grandma is a piano teacher. Both my grandpa and my uncle are passionate about photography, so I grew up surrounded by beautiful photos and the stories of the darkroom that my uncle created in his parent’s basement. So I would say that I’ve always been surrounded by creative people who inspired me to seek out any form of art I could get my hands on. It happened to be that photography was the medium I was most drawn towards, although I didn’t start getting serious about it until senior year of high school when I received a DSLR for my birthday. I continued to expand my photo education throughout college with a photography minor, which is where I learned how to develop film and make prints in the darkroom.

    Above: (left) “Pacific Coast, Los Angeles. This was my first time seeing the Pacific Ocean, we found a spot high above the beach that was secluded and you could really get a feel for the beauty of the water and see why people love the West Coast so much.” (right) “Mountainside, hiking in Los Angeles.”

    Can you share some recent themes or concepts that have been intriguing to you?
    In the past couple years I’ve seen a lot of photographers using large amounts of white space in their photos. It makes for a very simplistic looking photograph with a modern, clean feel. I tend to photograph scenes with a lot of color and so it’s something that I’ve been thinking more about when I shoot. I'm trying to find that white space in-between the vibrant colors of my surroundings.

    Something else that I love in both film and photography is a perfectly centered image. I’ve always been taught not to center my images because those photos tend to not be as interesting. But I disagree- I think that when done right it can create a photo that sparks intrigue. Why is the image so perfectly centered, or mirrored? What does it mean about the scene you are looking at? House of Cards does this so well and if you watch you’ll see many shots where everything is mirrored exactly on either side of the frame. It says a lot about the characters and how the director wants you to feel about what you are seeing.

    Above: "Chinatown, SF"

    You live in NYC but your work has a heavy focus on travel: how does experiencing different places affect your work? What kind of photos do you take in NYC vs on the road?
    I find the most inspiration for my photos in the unknown. I don’t really like to plan out photos, so it’s rare that you’ll see staged or photoshoot-type imagery in my work. Traveling helps me to fulfill finding those unexpected images through exploring new cities or even just seeing unique trees or plants that I didn’t know existed. That’s actually what inspired me to take the cactus photo currently sold on the site. I’m from the East Coast where cacti or succulents don’t grow in the wild, and I was so struck by the beauty of these wild cacti growing right out of the side of a mountain. I think it’s so important to always expand your horizon, and continue to explore to discover new places. Often traveling means driving only an hour to somewhere new.

    I think the biggest difference between the photos I take on the road vs in NYC is the medium. When I’m traveling I shoot primarily on 35mm film, while when I’m at home I typically shoot on my cell phone since it’s always on me.

    Above: "San Juan, Puerto Rico. The colors in this city are incredible. It's so different from the buildings in New York... I wanted to capture that tropical beauty."

    What other artists, creatives, musicians, writers, or ideas inspire your work?
    One of my favorite photographers is William Eggleston. He was one of the earlier photographers to really embrace color film, and it shows in the vibrant tones of each photograph. His process was to shoot photos of ordinary things in the moment he saw them, sometimes pulling over on the side of the road to snap one photo then continue on his way. What I love most about his style is the fact that he didn’t take 16 photos just to get the right shot. He saw it, pressed the shutter, and moved on. If it didn’t come out the way he wanted, he wouldn’t share it. In this age, it’s so easy to use a digital camera and shoot one flower a hundred different ways just to get the shot you want. But I’ve found that often the best photographs come from not overthinking it, just seeing and capturing it. Reading about Eggleston and studying his work really changed the way I photograph and see the world around me.

    Above: (left) “Asbury Park, NJ. I loved the irony of seeing this sign during fall when no one would be swimming anyway.” (right) “El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico. I loved how the trees here framed the looming rainforest and mountains ahead of us. This place was magnificent in its natural beauty.”

    What is a dream photography project for you?
    Because I shoot mostly in-the-moment photos, I want to work on a portrait series to stray a bit away from my comfort zone. In the past I’ve shot on black/white infrared film, which captures “living” things on film in a really unique way. My idea is to shoot my friends and family this way, to create a series of the people I care about most but to also create photographs that have a different feel to them.

    Above: “Surfers in Santa Monica, Los Angeles. The colors of the Pacific ocean are amazing, so different from the brown blue of the Atlantic.”

    Follow Lauren's work on her website and Instagram
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